Nat Turner (Dictionary of World Biography: The 19th Century)
Article abstract: Turner led the largest slave revolt in the history of the United States. As a slave preacher, he linked religion, liberation, and black militancy, thus providing a model for many future black liberation movements.
Nat Turner was born as a slave on the Benjamin Turner plantation in Southampton, Virginia. His mother was African born, and his father escaped from slavery to the North when Turner was a young child. From the beginning, Turner was perceived as a remarkable child by both his family and his white owner. Born into a slave culture that mixed elements of African tradition with Christianity, Turner exhibited birthmarks that, according to African custom, marked him as a person with spiritual gifts and power. He was treated accordingly by his relatives and the local slave community. His owner saw his early intelligence and encouraged Turner to learn to read and write. His paternal grandmother was extremely religious and provided religious education. He attended services and received religious education at Benjamin Turner’s Methodist meeting house, where the slaves were encouraged to worship with their master and his family. Turner, from his childhood, read the Bible regularly and engaged in prayer and meditation, coming to believe that he had a special calling. His religious study and his visions convinced him that Christianity affirmed the equality and dignity of all people and that...
(The entire section is 1936 words.)
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